Manning the Unmanned Methods of SSN(X)

By LCDR James Landreth, USN, and LT Andrew Pfau, USN

In Forging the Apex Predator, we revealed the outcomes of a brand new analytical mannequin that outlined the constraints and constraints for america Navy’s Subsequent Era Assault Submarine (SSN(X)) idea of operations (CONOPS) for coordinating a number of unmanned undersea automobiles (UUV). Utilizing a Mannequin Based mostly Methods Engineering strategy, we studied tradeoffs related to the variety of UUVs, crew complement and UUV crew work schedule. The primary iteration of our evaluation recognized crew complement because the limiting consider multi-UUV, or “swarm,” operations. Figuring out methods to maximise UUV operations with the small footprint crew required aboard submarines is vital to future SSN(X) design. Not all potential UUV missions require steady human operator involvement. Seafloor surveys, mine detection, and passive undersea cable monitoring for ships can all happen largely impartial of human supervision. The harm to Norwegian undersea cables in late 2021, probably attributable to a UUV, hints on the vital nature of this functionality for 21st century battle.1 By figuring out operations that require much less human supervision, CONOPs for SSN(X) will be tailor-made to maximise crew and UUV employment. The necessities for coaching and manning the crews to make use of UUVs have to be a part of the concerns of making the SSN(X) program.

The submarine pressure wants sailors with specialised expertise to take care of, function and combine UUVs into SSN(X) operations. As a result of the submarine pressure and america Navy at giant lack a documented, repeatable, and formalized course of for coaching UUV operators and maintainers, the qualitative idea and computational mannequin offered on this article presents a bridge to scaling multi-UUV operations. The Navy must develop codified coaching and manning necessities for UUV operations and the infrastructure, each bodily and mental, to help unmanned programs operations. The suggestions mentioned listed below are targeted on the particular use case of UUVs deployed from manned submarines.

Defining the Human Operator’s Position in “The Loop”

With the intention to outline a technique to man SSN(X)’s UUV mission, the submarine pressure should first outline the doable operational and upkeep relationships between man-unmanned groups. As soon as the specified relationships are outlined, then the related actions will be listed and manpower estimates will be made for every SSN(X) and for your complete fleet. The significance of this definition and the resultant estimates can’t be understated. For instance, launch and restoration of a medium UUV could also be seen as in keeping with present Navy Enlisted Classifications (NECs) at the moment required in torpedo rooms throughout the fleet. Novel features like “coordination of autonomous UUV swarms” has many supporting duties that the Navy’s schooling enterprise shouldn’t be but resourced to satisfy. Identification of the human duties required to satisfy the idea of operations (CONOP) is a vital part of built-in design for SSN(X).

The unique mannequin optimized 5 main variables with various trial configurations, and located probably the most vital element for maximizing the battle effectivity of SSN(X)’s UUVs was crew help. Particularly, the mannequin recognized that the human assets consumed per UUV was the limiting relationship for the UUV swarm measurement deployable from a single hull. The primary model of the commerce examine assorted (a) the variety of UUV crews accessible to help UUV operations and (b) the period of those shifts, and used a human-in-the-loop configuration, which established a 1:1 relationship between crew and UUV. With the intention to make use of a number of UUVs directly, the mannequin consumed further UUV crews for every UUV working and/or elevated the size of UUV crew’s shift. This manpower intensive mannequin shortly constrained the variety of UUVs {that a} single hull might make use of directly.

Knowledgeable by the constraints that human assets positioned on SSN(X)’s UUV mission, we up to date the programs mannequin to tell the vital job of “manning the unmanned programs.” Submariners and people who help their operations know the premium positioned on every further individual contained in the stress hull. Extra crew members can restrict the period of a mission whether or not by meals consumption, mattress house, or respiration an excessive amount of oxygen. Because of this, any CONOP that provides a major human praise contained in the pores and skin of SSN(X) is more likely to founder. Moreover, personnel working and sustaining the UUVs could have a selected set of coaching, proficiency and profession pathway necessities, whose price will scale with the complexity of the UUV system and CONOP.

The unique mannequin was based mostly on unmanned aerial programs (UAVs) operations and adopted the manning idea of Group 5 UAVs, the place one pilot is consumed repeatedly by an armed drone. Vital variations in working environments between UAVs and UUVs necessitate completely different working fashions. As a result of fast attenuation of sunshine and digital alerts within the undersea area, information trade between platforms happens at comparatively low speeds over comparatively restricted distances except linked by wire. Which means that the worldwide steady command, management and communication CONOP accessible to UAVs is not going to switch to UUVs. As a substitute, SSN(X) UUV operators will management their UUVs throughout operations comparatively near their manned platform, the place the mothership and UUVs will share the identical water house throughout launch and restoration. Communications at longer vary will happen much less often and be standing updates to the operator reasonably than steady or detailed. Separating the priority about counter detection and interception of acoustic alerts, communications at vary is feasible.2

The distinctive bodily traits of the underwater area make communications one of the crucial difficult elements of multi-UUV operations.

Placing connectivity variations apart, the manpower required for this human-in-the-loop mannequin is unnecessarily limiting for the anticipated UUV CONOP. Alternate fashions are offered in Autonomous Horizons: The Means Ahead, which particulars the roles for 3 man-machine crew ideas: human-in-the-loop, human-on-the-loop and human-out-of-the-loop. A human-on-the-loop situation would enable an operator to oversee a coordinated swarm reasonably than a single asset. This is able to be much less environment friendly than absolutely autonomous operation, however dramatically enhance the variety of UUVs a SSN(X) might deploy as a swarm. Operations carried out on this management mode could be restricted to people who don’t current a hazard to people however require cautious supervision corresponding to a coordinated offensive search or scanning a mine discipline. Lastly, a human-out-of-the-loop situation would require the fewest human assets and maximize the variety of UUVs an SSN(X) might successfully make use of, however its mission scope is assumed to be restricted to non-kinetic actions (“shaping operations”). Determine 1 supplies a visualization of how mission function and ranges of autonomy influence human useful resource necessities.

Given the multi-mission function that SSN(X) and its UUV swarm will play, the up to date mannequin presents three man-machine crew configurations that may very well be matched to given missions. SSN(X) necessities officers, submarine mission planners and submarine group managers should perceive these man-machine configurations in an effort to inform SSN(X)’s human useful resource technique:

  1. In-the-Loop. The authors assumed that sure missions corresponding to weapons engagement will proceed to require a human-in-the-loop structure the place a human is repeatedly supervising or controlling the actions of a given UUV. As such, the unique mannequin outcomes have been retained to signify these actions and supply a baseline for comparability in opposition to the 2 different architectures.
  2. On-the-Loop. Directed missions like coordinated search or enemy monitoring that may very well be precursors to human-in-the-loop situations profit from the supervision of a human operator. In a human-on-the-loop structure, the UUV operator is collaborating with a number of UUVs. The UUVs function with a level of autonomy and immediate the operator once they require human path. The examine assumed every operator might coordinate as much as 3 UUVs, although this quantity is a primary approximation. Additional experimentation would possibly present that this quantity may very well be considerably bigger.
  3. Out-of-the-Loop. On this structure, the UUV(s) have interaction in absolutely autonomous actions. They continue to be receptive to instructions from the operator however require no enter to carry out their assigned function. The examine assumed that an operator might coordinate as much as 18 UUVs in a completely autonomous mode.3 Nonetheless, this might scale as a a number of if SSN(X) might carry out simultaneous launch and restoration operations from a number of ocean interfaces.

By affording the mannequin the size accessible from on-the-loop and out-of-the-loop management modes, the expected swarm of UUVs might simply triple the world surveyed in a 24-hour interval. Detailed outcomes of the up to date mannequin are supplied in Appendix 1. The submarine pressure should first think about its have to generate UUV crews for SSN(X), no matter their mode of operation. Extra advanced UUV operations would require better ability funding, and extra actively used UUVs per hull will impose a better upkeep burden on the crew. Determine 1 illustrates the essential relationship between UUV complexity, management mode, mission function throughout the vary of army operations.

Determine 1. Man-Machine Teaming Based mostly on Mission Position

Present Scenario Report

The Navy’s guiding doc for unmanned programs, the Unmanned Marketing campaign Framework (UCF), addresses how Sort Commanders will “equip” the fleet, however the Navy ought to broaden the UCF to incorporate how Sort Commanders will carry out their “man and prepare” missions.4 The realities of unmanned applied sciences would require new coaching for present charges and probably new specialised scores. The “man and prepare” demand alerts will develop into louder as the abilities required for UUV operations and upkeep develop as a operate of UUV complexity5 and scale6 of operations. Establishing a central schoolhouse and formal curriculum for officer and enlisted UUV expertise is a strategic crucial. As a reminder, SSN(X)’s necessities demand advanced UUV operations at scale.

The Navy has organized UUVs into 4 main teams based mostly on measurement. Determine 2 reveals the categorization of UUVs into small, medium, giant and extra-large UUV (SUUV, MUUV, LUUV, and XLUUV). The present groupings are based mostly on the ocean interface required to deploy every UUV, however because the Navy develops its UUV CONOP, the submarine pressure could be clever to borrow from the same categorization of unmanned aerial automobiles (UAV) within the Joint Unmanned Plane Methods Minimal Coaching Requirements.7 The 5 UAV groupings think about not solely bodily measurement, mission, and operational envelop but in addition the qualification stage required of the operators. These classes will decide how every UUV class will probably be employed, with SUUV, MUUV and even some LUUVs in a position to be deployed from manned submarine motherships. The complexity and ability required to function UUVs will even scale with measurement, with bigger UUVs in a position to carry extra sensors at better endurance. These categorizations simply translate into coaching and manpower necessities for operations, with extra coaching and personnel required for bigger UUVs.

Determine 2: UUV System Categorization by PMS 406. Click on to broaden.8

Virtually the entire platforms illustrated in Figure2 are at the moment within the experimental section, with just a few copies of every UUV platform accessible for take a look at and analysis. A minimum of one UUV platform, the Knifefish, is shifting into low-rate preliminary manufacturing.9 Because the Navy strikes to amass extra UUVs, it must transition its coaching of sailors from an advert hoc deployment particular coaching to codified schoolhouses.

In step with the experimental nature of present UUVs, the models that function and preserve UUV programs additionally exist within the early phases. The Unmanned Undersea Automobile Squadron 1 (UUVRON 1), and Floor Improvement Squadron 1 (SURFDEVRON 1) are tasked with testing unmanned programs and growing techniques, strategies, and procedures for his or her operation. Activity Drive 59, working within the 5th Fleet space, is the primary operational Navy command that seeks to work throughout communities to deliver unmanned belongings collectively for testing and operations. Sailors assigned to those instructions will study many unmanned-specific expertise and information on the job as a result of the abilities they carry from their fleet assignments could or is probably not relevant. Just like the schoolhouse problem, establishing upkeep facilities of excellence and increasing the work of improvement squadrons are important pillars of the unmanned manpower technique.10

Making ready for the Future

The Navy should prepare sailors for 2 main UUV duties: operations and upkeep. Whereas the identical sailor could also be skilled and able to performing each duties on UUVs, manpower fashions should accommodate sufficient personnel to concurrently function UUVs whereas performing upkeep on a number of different UUVs.

The submarine pressure can study the operational coaching fashions that exists for UAVs the place the dimensions and capabilities of the UAV decide coaching necessities. The Division of the Navy already supplies coaching for a spread of UAV lessons and missions together with: RQ-21 Blackjack, ScanEagle, MQ-4 Triton, MQ-8C Fireplace Scout, and various different joint applications of report. The UAV coaching necessities exist in numerous phases of maturity, however on common exceed UUVs by a number of years and even a long time as a consequence of early funding by each army and civilian organizations just like the Federal Aviation Administration. Necessities for UAV coaching differ broadly based mostly on grouping. Qualification timelines for Group 1 UAVs like small quadcopters will be measured in days. Weapons-carrying or superior UAVs just like the MQ-9 Reaper require operators who’ve obtained years of coaching much like manned plane pilots.

The Navy, Military and Marine Corps have established army occupational designations for roles associated to UAVs, together with upkeep and flight operations. They’ve established coaching programs to certify service operators and maintainers for all kinds of UAV platforms. In distinction, the Navy has but to promulgate a plan for Navy Enlisted Classifications (NEC) or Officer Extra Qualification Designations (AQD) or set up an equal profession discipline for UUV operations at a stage of element in keeping with legacy warfare platforms.

Along with evaluating the transferability of classes realized from the UAV group, the submarine pressure ought to incorporate the teachings realized from sister UUV customers within the particular warfare and explosive ordinance disposal domains. These communities possess the mature UUV expertise and working procedures. The expertise of those communities can speed up the nascent area information the submarine pressure has already established because it builds a basis for multi-UUV operations from SSN(X). Separate from operations, the Navy will want to have the ability to carry out organic-level upkeep duties on UUVs at sea corresponding to changing circuit playing cards, swapping sensor packages, or sustaining propulsion models. Given SSN(X)’s heavy weapons payload necessities, an unmaintained UUV occupying a weapon’s stow will restrict its supposed multi-mission nature. The Navy might want to prepare its work pressure for these upkeep duties. Simply as importantly, UUVs must be designed for maintainability, in order that fundamental elements will be repaired or changed at sea.

Manpower Fashions

Nonetheless the Navy chooses to coach sailors to function and preserve UUVs, group managers will face a distinct set of decisions in terms of the group and manning. There are two completely different fashions the Navy primarily makes use of to prepare and man comparable models supporting unmanned operations: straight assign sailors with the required expertise to operational models or create specialised UUV detachments situated in main homeports that then increase deploying models.

Probably the most built-in mannequin could be direct manning of submarines with sailors possessing the NEC or AQD certifying ability in operation and upkeep of UUVs. Every unit would have the variety of billets needed to satisfy manpower necessities and these sailors could be a part of the crew, getting underway and performing duties apart from these straight associated to UUVs, even when UUVs are usually not onboard. This mannequin would guarantee steady integration of UUV specialists with the remainder of the crew. Whereas the crew could achieve extra information from these specialists, the specialists could face challenges sustaining their experience based mostly on the wants of a given deployment. Probably the most vital problem to sustaining expertise would be the availability of UUVs on each submarine and time at sea to apply operations.

The detachment mannequin presents an arguably more adept set of operators to a deploying unit, however could cause secondary impacts to warfighting tradition. The Info Warfare Neighborhood (IWC) effectively helps present submarine operations by way of the detachment mannequin for sure technical operations. IWC “riders” are welcome compliments for essential missions, however the increase nature signifies that the internet hosting submarine doesn’t essentially absolutely combine the “rider’s” tradition and information into its personal. If the submarine pressure adopted this mannequin, a UUVRON at fleet focus areas like Groton or Pearl Harbor would have administrative accountability for sailors with the technical expertise to take care of and function UUVs. These sailors type into detachments and deploy to submarines to conduct operations whereas deployed. This mannequin requires fewer personnel than a direct manning mannequin, and these sailors will doubtless develop into more adept in UUV operations. Nonetheless, the remainder of the submarine crew (and thus the pressure as a complete) would develop into much less accustomed to UUV operations with out a everlasting presence of professional sailors.

Each of the direct project and detachment manning fashions have benefits and downsides. Quantitatively, the submarine pressure should assign priorities and human useful resource availability to the variables throughout the commerce house. Qualitatively, the Navy should decide how tightly UUV operators will probably be coupled to deploying models, and whether or not the detachment mannequin can set up the specified UUV tradition throughout the fleet.


Regardless of the unmanned moniker, UUVs will nonetheless require expert people to take care of and function them. SSN(X) necessities officers, mission planners and group managers should present early enter into the varieties of autonomous missions SSN(X) UUVs will carry out and the corresponding ability stage required of sailors. To succeed, resolution makers can examine the mannequin supplied on this article with present applications of report’s coaching and certification necessities for UAVs. The submarine pressure should undertake a framework of coaching necessities that scales to UUV measurement and functionality, and that framework should embody whether or not UUV sailors will come from specialised detachments like current-day IWC riders or be built-in members of the crew. Because the Navy strikes UUVs from the take a look at and analysis to deployment phases and formalizes necessities for SSN(X), expert sailors have to be already within the fleet, able to obtain and function these programs.

Lieutenant Commander James Landreth, P.E., is a submarine officer within the Navy Reserves and a civilian acquisition skilled for the Division of the Navy. He’s a graduate of the U.S. Naval Academy (B.S.) and the College of South Carolina (M.Eng.). The views and opinions expressed listed below are his personal.

Lieutenant Andrew Pfau, USN, is a submariner serving as an teacher on the U.S. Naval Academy. He’s a graduate of the Naval Postgraduate College and the U. S. Naval Academy. The views and opinions expressed listed below are his personal.

Appendix 1: Information Comparability between System Optimized for Human-In-the-Loop versus On-the-Loop and Out-of-the-Loop Optima


# UUV # Crew Miles Scanned per 24 hrs Utilization
8 4 240 0.25
7 4 240 0.29
6 4 240 0.33
5 4 240 0.4
4 4 240 0.5
3 4 240 0.67
2 3 165 0.69

Desk 5. Pattern Evaluation Outcomes Optimized for Man-in-the-Loop (1:1)


# UUV # Crew Crew OPTEMPO UUV Charging Bays Fees per Day Miles Scanned per 24 hrs Utilization Notes ↑↓
8 4 0.5 2 0.33 659 0.69 2.75x ↑ in miles scanned; 2.76x ↑ in utilization
7 4 0.5 2 0.33 577 0.69 2.4x ↑ in miles scanned; 2.37x ↑ in utilization
6 4 0.5 2 0.33 494 0.69 2.06x ↑ in miles scanned; 2.1x ↑ in utilization
5 4 0.5 2 0.33 412 0.69 1.72x ↑ in miles scanned; 1.7x ↑ in utilization
4 4 0.5 2 0.33 330 0.69 1.72x ↑ in miles scanned; 1.7x ↑ in utilization
3 4 0.5 2 0.33 247 0.69 1.03x ↑ in miles scanned; 1.03x ↑ in utilization
2 3 0.5 2 0.33 165 0.69 No change

Desk 6. Pattern Evaluation Outcomes for On-the-Loop (3:1) vs Man-in-the-Loop Optima

# UUV # Crew Crew OPTEMPO UUV Charging Bays Fees per Day Miles Scanned per 24 hrs Utilization Notes
8 4 0.5 2 0.33 659 0.69 No change
7 4 0.5 2 0.33 577 0.69 No change
6 3 0.5 2 0.33 494 0.69 Similar output with 1 fewer crew
5 3 0.5 2 0.33 412 0.69 Similar output with 1 fewer crew
4 2 0.5 2 0.33 330 0.69 Similar output with 2 fewer crew
3 2 0.5 2 0.33 247 0.69 Similar output with 2 fewer crew
2 2 0.5 2 0.33 165 0.69 Similar output with 1 fewer crew

Desk 7. Pattern Evaluation Outcomes for On-the-Loop (3:1) Re-Optimized


# UUV # Crew Miles Scanned per 24 hrs Utilization
8 4 659 0.69
7 4 577 0.69
6 4 494 0.69
5 4 412 0.69
4 4 330 0.69
3 4 247 0.69
2 3 165 0.69
8 2 659 0.69
7 2 577 0.69
6 2 494 0.69
5 2 412 0.69
4 2 330 0.69
3 2 247 0.69
2 2 165 0.69

Desk 8. Pattern Evaluation Outcomes for Out-Of-the-Loop (18:1) vs In-the-Loop Optimum. The identical efficiency metrics of miles scanned and utilization charges are achieved with solely 2 crews for a similar UUV configurations.

Appendix 2: Evaluation Constraint Equations

The next equations have been used to develop a reusable parametric mannequin. The mannequin was developed in Cameo Methods Modeler model 19.0 Service Pack 3 with ParaMagic 18.0 utilizing the Methods Modeling Language (SysML). The mannequin was coupled with Matlab 2021a by way of the Symbolic Math Toolkit plug-in. This mannequin is obtainable to share with U.S. Authorities events by way of any XMI appropriate modeling surroundings.

Equation 7b. Crew Availability Equation introduces a brand new variable referred to as “Variety of UUV Managed per Crew.” This variable represents an evolution from the first model of this examine, which restricted a person crew and its UUV to a 1:1 relationship. Equation 7a. Crew Availability Equation used within the first model calculations is included for comparability.

Equation 1. Scanning Equation

Equation 2. System Availability Equation

Equation 3. UUV Availability Equation

Equation 4. UUV Responsibility Cycle Equation

Equation 5. Day Sensor Availability Equation

Equation 6. Night time Sensor Availability Equation

Equation 7a. Crew Availability Equation

Equation 7b. Crew Availability Equation

Equation 8. Cost Availability Equation

Equation 9. Utilization Rating


1. Thomas Newdick, “Undersea Cable Connecting Norway with Arctic Satellite tv for pc Station has been Mysteriously Severed”, The Conflict Zone, Jan 10, 2022, on-line:

2. Milica Stojanovic, “On the Relationship Between Capability and Distance in Underwater Acoustic Communication Channel”, ACM SIGMOBILE Cellular Computing and Communications Assessment, Vol 11, Situation 4, Oct 2007. On-line:

3. The idea for 18 was that the deployment and restoration of every UUV would devour roughly 4 hours in an anticipated 72-hour UUV mission (72:4 reduces to 18:1).

4. Division of the Navy, “Unmanned Marketing campaign Framework,” Washington, D.C., March, 2021

5. Complexity refers back to the technical sophistication of every UUV and/or the problem of executing a mission inside a sensible battle house

6. Scale refers back to the variety of UUVs in a coordinated UUV operation

7. Joint Employees, “Joint Unmanned Plane Methods Minimal Coaching Requirements (CJCSI 3255.01, CH1),” Washington, D.C., September 2012

8. Slide 2 of briefing by Captain Pete Small, Program Supervisor, Unmanned Maritime Methods (PMS 406), entitled “Unmanned Maritime Methods Replace,” January 15, 2019, accessed Oct 22, 2021, at

9. Edward Lundquist, “Common Dynamics Strikes Knifefish Manufacturing to New UUV Heart of Excellence,” Seapower Journal, August 19, 2021,

10. The top of 2021 noticed preliminary working functionality for Activity Drive 59 within the 5th Fleet space of operations, which was the primary unmanned Activity Drive of its sort.

Featured Picture: BEAUFORT SEA, Arctic Circle (March 5, 2022) – Virginia-class assault submarine USS Illinois (SSN 786) surfaces within the Beaufort Sea March 5, 2022, kicking off Ice Train (ICEX) 2022. (U.S. Navy photograph by Mike Demello)

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